JONAS MALHEIRO SAVIMBI
(3-8-1934 - 22-2-2002)
ANGOLA : A morte de Savimbi trará consigo a paz ?
LE MONDE | 23.02.02 | 15h10
• MIS A JOUR LE 23.02.02 | 19h27
L'éternel maquisard Jonas Savimbi a été tué durant des combats en Angola
Le gouvernement et les forces armées angolaises ont annoncé, vendredi
22 février, que Jonas Savimbi, le chef du mouvement d'opposition armée Unita
(Union nationale pour l'indépendance totale de l'Angola) depuis 1975, a été
tué lors de combats avec les militaires gouvernementaux dans la province de
Moxico, au centre-est du pays. Samedi, la télévision angolaise et la chaîne
nationale portugaise (RTP) ont diffusé des images où le corps de Jonas
Savimbi était facilement reconnaissable.
Selon le correspondant de la RTP, Jonas Savimbi a été touché par quinze balles, dont deux à la tête.
Jonas Savimbi est mort là où il a vécu pratiquement toute sa vie, dans le maquis, en combattant. Avant même l'accession à l'indépendance de l'Angola, il s'était retranché dans un sanctuaire territorial, à l'époque avec l'aide de la PIDE, la police politique portugaise, qui cherchait à contrer ainsi, en semant la division, les indépendantistes armés marxistes du Mouvement populaire pour la libération de l'Angola (MPLA). L'Angola indépendante, Savimbi a continué sa lutte, toujours dans le maquis, contre le nouveau pouvoir du MPLA militairement soutenu par Cuba et l'ex-Union soviétique. En inscrivant dans la matrice géopolitique de la guerre froide le conflit angolais, qui est essentiellement une guerre de décolonisation entre élites locales aspirant à accéder à un pouvoir sans partage, Savimbi a combattu, jusqu'à la chute du Mur de Berlin, les "marxistes" à Luanda pour le compte du "monde libre". Il a été décoré, dans le Bureau ovale de la Maison Blanche, par Ronald Reagan.
Les Etats-Unis ont monté à son profit la plus importante opération d'aide militaire secrète sur le continent africain. Via le Zaïre de l'époque, précisément la base de Kamina dans le sud-ouest de l'actuel Congo, les Américains ont livré des milliers de tonnes de matériels militaires à l'Unita. Ils ont même "prépositionné" des agents de la CIA, chargés de veiller sur les missiles sol-air Stinger, alors une arme très moderne que Washington n'avait livrée à aucun autre allié. En échange, Savimbi, chef despotique d'une armée de guérilla organisée sur le modèle chinois, dans l'autarcie d'une guerre "populaire" au sein des Ovimdundus, l'ethnie majoritaire en Angola, a combattu la pétrodictature marxiste à Luanda mais aussi les dizaines de milliers de "barbudos", les combattants internationalistes cubains envoyés par la Havane.
En Angola, la logique de la guerre froide a épuisé son semblant de pertinence avant même la fin de l'empire soviétique. A partir de 1986, les Américains ont négocié en Afrique australe un accord global selon lequel l'Afrique du Sud de l'apartheid allait octroyer l'indépendance à la Namibie en échange du départ des 50 000 soldats cubains de l'Angola. Cet accord a été signé, en décembre 1988, au siège de l'ONU à New York. Il valait arrêté de mort pour Jonas Savimbi, à moins que le maquisard de la guerre froide ne se reconvertisse en homme politique poursuivant sa lutte pour le pouvoir - et contre l'élite "créole" qui l'avait accaparé à son profit à Luanda - par d'autres moyens. C'est là le grand échec de Savimbi : il n'a pas su transformer un rapport de force militaire en victoire politique. Trop sûr de lui et de sa lecture ethnonationaliste de l'histoire angolaise qui l'incitait à considérer les "métis" du MPLA comme une minorité sans corps électoral, il n'a jamais su se débarrasser de sa posture "belliciste". Aux élections de septembre 1992 il a fait peur. Et il a été battu, au premier tour, par le président Eduardo Dos Santos, un ingénieur du pétrole formé en URSS, plus lisse et plus habile.
"GUERRE TOTALE "
Savimbi a repris les armes et commis la faute que le MPLA attendait seulement pour lui déclarer une "guerre totale". Dans l'incompréhension des enjeux profonds du conflit angolais, de la rivalité entre Ovimdundus (autochtones) et l'élite créole dénoncée comme "étrangère", héritage du colonialisme portugais, la guerre en Angola a été réinterprétée ces dernières années comme un combat pour des pactoles, les diamants d'un côté, le pétrole de l'autre. C'était confondre les moyens et les fins d'une guerre, certes alimentée par l'exploitation des matières premières mais dont l'enjeu était le pouvoir, la rivalité séculaire entre les "authentiques" fils du pays dont parlait Savimbi, et les "assimilés" de la côte qu'il vouait à une vindicte qu'il croyait populaire.
Pour le régime du MPLA, toujours aussi peu démocratique malgré une façade libérale construite pour l'extérieur, la mort de Savimbi n'est pas nécessairement une bonne nouvelle. Car, du point de vue de l'oligarchie au pouvoir à Luanda, si Savimbi n'avait pas existé, on aurait dû l'inventer. C'est grâce à cet épouvantail, un despote dans la jungle peu regardant sur ses alliances au point d'avoir sabré le champagne avec Peter Botha, l'impénitent président du pays de l'apartheid, que les profiteurs de la rente pétrolière ont pu s'accaparer les richesses de l'Angola.
Savimbi mort, on peut déjà annoncer le décès, à terme, d'un régime ayant tout justifié pendant plus d'un quart de siècle : les sacrifices, les privations de liberté, la misère et la répression.
De la paix à la catastrophe humanitaire
20 novembre 1994 : 19 ans après la déclaration d'indépendance de l'Angola, le 11 novembre 1975, un accord de paix est signé à Lusaka (Zambie) entre le chef de l'Etat depuis 1979, José Eduardo dos Santos, et l'Union nationale pour l'indépendance totale de l'Angola (Unita), dirigée par Jonas Savimbi. L'Unita accepte le désarmement de ses troupes et une participation à un gouvernement dit d'union nationale.
8 mai 1996 : une loi d'amnistie permet à des députés de l'Unita, élus en 1992, de prendre leurs fonctions en avril 1997. A cette même date, Jonas Savimbi bénéficie d'un "statut spécial", et onze membres de l'Unita entrent dans le premier gouvernement d'unité nationale.
30 juin 1997 : création de la Mission d'observation des Nations unies en Angola (Monua). Quatre mois après, l'ONU sanctionne l'Unita pour non-respect des accords de paix.
11 mars 1998 : l'Unita est reconnue comme parti politique.
Juillet-août : des attaques armées à Lunda-Norte (nord-est du pays) et à Malanje (nord) font, au total, près de 360 tués. Elles sont attribuées à l'Unita, qui, le 24 août, cesse de collaborer avec les pays qui veillent au processus de paix.
2 septembre : le gouvernement rompt tout dialogue avec l'Unita. Le Parlement annule le "statut spécial" de Jonas Savimbi, et l'armée lance une offensive générale contre la rébellion.
29 janvier 1999 : José Eduardo dos Santos assume les pleins pouvoirs, quelques jours avant que l'ONU, dont deux avions se sont écrasés dans le centre de l'Angola, mette fin à sa mission.
24 juillet : un mandat d'arrêt est lancé contre Jonas Savimbi pour "crimes de rébellion armée, sabotage et tueries". L'armée angolaise reprend des fiefs de l'Unita.
30 novembre 2000 : une loi d'amnistie générale s'applique à l'Unita et à son chef. L'Unita rejette le texte et exige des négociations directes avec le président angolais. L'armée mène de sévères offensives contre la guérilla, qui multiplie ses attaques.
3 juin 2001 : Jonas Savimbi reconnaît que la guerre contre le régime de Luanda ne marque pas de succès probants.
21 août : le gouvernement angolais souhaite que Jonas Savimbi soit jugé par un tribunal international pour crimes contre l'humanité.
24 septembre : George Bush proroge les sanctions de son pays contre l'Unita. Plusieurs ONG jugent que la population est en état de "catastrophe humanitaire".
• ARTICLE PARU DANS L'EDITION DU 24.02.02
Le rebelle Jonas
Savimbi donné pour mort en Angola
L'armée a annoncé avoir tué le chef de l'Unita.
Par Marie-Laure COLSON
Le samedi 23 février 2002
Cette fois, le gouvernement angolais a l'air sûr de son fait: Jonas Savimbi, dirigeant du mouvement rebelle angolais de l'Unita (l'Union nationale pour l'indépendance totale de l'Angola), a été tué vendredi vers 15 heures au cours d'un accrochage avec les forces gouvernementales dans la province de Moxico, a annoncé Aldemiro de Conceiçao un porte-parole de la présidence, interrogé en direct par la radio privée portugaise TSF. «Nous exposerons bien sûr le corps de Savimbi à l'intention des photographes», a dit De Conceiçao. «Nous avions un problème qui vient d'être éliminé», a-t-il ajouté.
Guerre civile. C'est le moins qu'on puisse dire. A 67 ans, Jonas Savimbi, dont on ne savait pas encore vendredi soir s'il fallait parler de lui au passé, l'Unita n'ayant pas confirmé sa mort, est l'un des principaux acteurs de la guerre civile qui déchire l'Angola depuis l'indépendance, le 11 novembre 1975, durement acquise après une guerre de libération de quatorze ans. Ce fils de chef de gare, élevé dans le protestantisme, et un temps séduit par le maoïsme, a lui-même combattu l'armée portugaise au sein du Front de libération nationale de l'Angola avant de créer son propre mouvement. Après avoir perdu les premières élections générales angolaises de 1992 face au président José Eduardo Dos Santos, Savimbi avait fui Luanda où il ne se sentait pas en sécurité, et avait déclenché une nouvelle phase de la guerre contre le MPLA (Mouvement populaire de libération de l'Angola) du chef de l'Etat.
L'ancien allié des Etats-Unis et de l'Afrique du Sud du temps de l'apartheid était mis au ban de la communauté internationale depuis plusieurs années. Les sanctions imposées par l'ONU en 1993 interdisaient en principe au dirigeant de la rébellion et à ses collaborateurs de voyager à l'étranger. Les avoirs et comptes bancaires de l'Unita avaient été gelés. Il restait à la rébellion de Jonas Savimbi le diamant, principale richesse des territoires contrôlés par l'Unita.
Depuis décembre, l'ONU cherchait à rétablir un contact avec Jonas Savimbi, les pourparlers de paix ayant été officiellement interrompus depuis la reprise des combats à grande échelle en 1998, alors même que Savimbi disposait de sept ministres au sein du gouvernement d'unité nationale. L'ONU avait été l'architecte du traité de paix interangolais de 1994 (accords de Lusaka), qui avait fait un temps espérer l'arrêt de cette guerre fratricide. Celle-ci a fait plus d'un demi-million de morts, 100 000 blessés et contraint quelque 4 millions de personnes à se déplacer à l'intérieur du pays ou à se réfugier dans les faubourgs de la capitale.
Isolé. L'Unita avait perdu ses places fortes des provinces du centre, de même que des villes stratégiques telles que Huambo, mais avait encore le pouvoir de menacer Luanda avec une armée estimée aujourd'hui encore à au moins 30 000 hommes. Fin janvier encore, l'Unita attaquait un poste de l'armée près de Caxito, verrou de protection à une soixantaine de kilomètres de la capitale. Mais Savimbi avait contre lui une armée financée par les recettes du pétrole. Surtout, ce militaire cultivé et charismatique avait fini par s'isoler, faisant fuir par son autocratisme ses alliés de longue date. Depuis qu'il avait perdu ses fiefs du centre de l'Angola, Jonas Savimbi avait été récemment repéré dans l'immense province de Moxico où l'armée avait intensifié ses opérations au cours des dernières semaines.
Domingo, 24 de febrero de 2002
La muerte de Savimbi en Angola apunta al fin de la guerra
africana más larga
La desaparición del líder de UNITA abre el camino de la reconciliación nacional
JAVIER GARCÍA | Lisboa
La muerte del líder de UNITA (Unión para la Independencia Total de Angola), Jonás Savimbi, considerado como el último de los grandes guerrilleros del continente africano, marcará el fin de una de las guerras más largas del siglo XX (13 años contra la colonización portuguesa y cerca de 27 de enfrentamientos civiles), el inicio de la definitiva reconciliación nacional y la consolidación del proceso democrático en un país rico de África, pero sumido en la miseria por la corrupción instalada en las altas esferas del poder y por la actitud intransigente del propio Savimbi.
Cercado militarmente y aislado internacionalmente el líder de UNITA, de 67 años, ha sido víctima de su propia intransigencia al negar el fracaso de su organización en las primeras elecciones democráticas angoleñas de 1992, aceptadas por Naciones Unidas, y abocar al país a una guerra sin fin, tras varios acuerdos de paz que nunca alcanzaron los frutos deseados. La desaparición de Savimbi abre también el camino a una nueva generación política en Angola, tras el reciente anuncio de que el presidente José Eduardo dos Santos abandonará definitivamente el poder.
Apoyado por Estados Unidos durante el régimen comunista que siguió a la descolonización portuguesa, pero abandonado tras el inicio del proceso democrático que lideró el polémico presidente Dos Santos en 1992, el líder de UNITA tenía un carisma y una fuerza casi mágicos que, a juicio del escrito angoleño José Eduardo Agualusa, impresionaba a todo aquel que se le aproximase: 'Fue un ciclón admirable y pavoroso, probablemente el hombre más extraordinario que pasó por Angola y el peor (...) Podía haberse transformado en el segundo Nelson Mandela, pero prefirió ser Atila'.
Un millón de muertos
La muerte de Savimbi llega cuando el país se halla al borde de la catástrofe: más de un millón de muertos, cuatro de desplazados (de ellos, más de dos millones necesitan recibir alimentos para subsistir), y más de 100.000 mutilados por minas antipersona. La explotación de sus inmensas reservas de petróleo (destinadas a sostener la maquinaria de guerra del Gobierno y a favorecer el inmenso enriquecimiento de las influyentes familias del régimen), las florecientes minas de diamantes ( fuente de financiación de UNITA) y los inagotables bancos de pesca no han impedido que el 82% de la población sobreviva en la miseria, la mitad duerma a la intemperie y sólo un 16% tenga acceso a un mínimo servicio de saneamiento.
Hijo de un ferroviario y pastor evangélico, Jonas Malheiro Savimbi, originario de la tribu ovimbundu (el mayor grupo étnico del país), terminó la enseñanza preuniversitaria en el instituto Paços Manuel, de Lisboa, y fue detenido en tres ocasiones por la policía política salazarista, la temida PIDE de la dictadura. En 1960 se trasladó a Suiza y un año después se sumó a los grupos que lucharon por la independencia de Angola para fundar la UNITA en 1966. Tras recibir formación militar en la China de Mao, el jefe guerrillero se trasladó al sur de Angola donde encabezó la lucha contra la dominación portuguesa y firmó en 1975, junto con el líder de la independencia nacional, Agostinho Neto, los acuerdos de Alvor que decidieron la descolonización del país africano.
A pesar de su formación maoísta, Savimbi, apoyado entonces por Estados Unidos, lanzó la insurrección contra el régimen comunista del MPLA (Movimiento para la Liberación de Angola) hasta que en 1991 firmó en Lisboa los acuerdos de paz que dieron lugar, un año después, a las primeras elecciones libres y democráticas en Angola. La primera vuelta de esos comicios legislativos y presidenciales registraron una clara victoria del MPLA. El líder de UNITA se negó a aceptar esos resultados, calificándolos de 'fraude', y regresó al interior del país para continuar la lucha armada contra el MPLA.
Con dificultades para mantener las operaciones guerrilleras, Savimbi firmó en 1994 los acuerdos de paz de Lusaka y, según algunos de sus antiguos compañeros, aprovechó esa tregua para rearmarse y continuar una lucha suicida y abocada al fracaso, dado su progresivo aislamiento internacional.
El previsible sucesor del actual presidente y secretario general del MPLA, João Lourenço, afirmó ayer que Savimbi tuvo el fin que eligió y explicó que su desaparición favorecerá 'la llegada de la paz'. Tras lamentar su muerte, Lourenço apeló a la población para mantener la calma y facilitar la deseada reconciliación nacional. Por su parte, el antiguo dirigente de UNITA y actual embajador de Angola en Canadá, Miguel Nzau Puna, dijo que Savimbi fue 'víctima de su intransigencia y obsesión por la guerra'.
Murió con las armas en la mano
Las Fuerzas Armadas angoleñas mostraron ayer el cadáver de Jonas Savimbi a un grupo de periodistas desplazados a la provincia de Moxico, al este del país. El cuerpo, con al menos siete impactos de bala (uno en el cuello y otro en la cabeza), estaba tumbado junto a un árbol, descalzo y vestido con las ropas militares de la guerrilla. El brigada Wala, que dirigió la emboscada militar contra la columna de UNITA, afirmó que Savimbi murió 'con las armas en la mano'. Tras una persecución de semanas, el líder guerrillero organizó una operación para huir hacia Zambia. Dividió sus fuerzas en tres columnas, pero no consiguió despistar al Ejército de Angola. El brigada Wala afirma que Savimbi resultó muerto en un enfrentamiento a mediodía del viernes, si bien algunas versiones aseguran que el líder de UNITA cayó el pasado lunes o martes, pero la noticia fue atrasada hasta este fin de semana, antes de que el presidente de Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos, se traslade a Washington, previa escala en Lisboa, para entrevistarse con George W. Bush. El futuro de la guerrilla de UNITA es, en estos momentos, una incógnita, dado que los principales colaboradores de Savimbi (los generales Lukamba Gato, Dembo o Alcides Sakala) consiguieron escapar a la operación de las fuerzas gubernamentales, si bien la mayoría de los especialistas considera que la desaparición del líder guerrillero abrirá el camino para la paz en Angola. El portavoz de la Presidencia de la República, Aldemiro da Conceiçao, explicó ayer que el Gobierno de Luanda pondrá en marcha 'un plan para el cese definitivo de las hostilidades en el país'. Da Conceiçao atribuyó ayer a las 'fuerzas terroristas de Savimbi' la 'muerte de civiles inocentes y la destrucción de múltiples infraestructuras por todo el país'.
February 23, 2002
Jonas Savimbi, 67, Rebel of Charisma and Tenacity, Dies
Mr. Savimbi, 67, was among the more charismatic rebels on the continent. The burly leader was easily recognized by his lumbering gait, menacing scowl, combat fatigues, pistol and black beret, all of which served to obscure his Swiss doctorate in political science.
He first led armed fighters against Angola's Portuguese rulers in the 1960's, using the tactics of a "people's war" that he had learned in Communist China. A decade later, when the war-weary Portuguese withdrew in 1975, he became one of the contenders in a three-way tribally based struggle for power. This civil war, with its contrary claims to patronage and governance, quickly became enmeshed in global politics as the rival superpowers and their proxies rushed to sponsor their chosen factions.
The Soviets sent arms and the Cubans sent troops to help the leftist government in Luanda — the M.P.L.A., or the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola — headed by Agostinho Neto, a Marxist doctor and poet. The United States and its allies backed Holden Roberto and his Front for the National Liberation of Angola (F.N.L.A.), an organization that commanded the allegiance of the Bakongo peoples of the north. Mr. Savimbi, the youngest of the three leaders, had his own power base among the Ovambundu and other southern tribes who had provided fighters for his Unita faction, an acronym for the Portuguese equivalent of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola.
As for military backing, Mr. Savimbi took it wherever he could, a little from China, some ragtag mercenaries, diamond smugglers and, most controversially, from the then white supremacist government of South Africa. A lifelong admirer of Che Guevara, he nonetheless became the darling of Western anti-Communists..
Though the civil war that broke out in 1975 was fought largely in remote regions of a country that is twice the size of Texas, it marked the opening wheeze in what was to be Moscow's last interventionist gasp..
By the late 1980's Cuba had 50,000 soldiers there and the South African Defense Forces were actively fighting on the other side with Mr. Savimbi. But then, after more than a decade of warfare, Communism as a global force vanished. The Soviet Union collapsed, and South Africa abandoned apartheid. As a result, the international aspects of the Angolan conflict seemed less pressing.
Still, the fighting continued, though Mr. Roberto and his F.N.L.A. had dropped out of the picture. The warfare, at times interrupted by fragile truces, pitted Mr. Savimbi and his men against the Luanda government that was accepted by most African states, though not recognized by the United States until 1993.
The country of about 10 million people is rich in oil, coal, diamonds and farmland, but after decades of fighting it lay devastated. More than a million of its people have been killed or wounded. Once attractive cities like Luanda and Huambo have become ruins where orphaned children seek security in sewers, and the country has a higher percentage of limbless citizens maimed by land mines than any other.
In 1996, Thomas L. Friedman, a columnist for The New York Times, traveled in Angola asking people what the fighting was about. A 23- year-old soldier who had spent the previous eight years as a warrior for Mr. Savimbi said, "I don't know if there was ever a reason for this war." President José Eduardo dos Santos, who as Dr. Neto's successor and president of Angola was Mr. Savimbi's chief adversary, said he knew of "no ideological reason to have a war."
Mr. Savimbi was born on Aug. 3, 1934, in a village along the Benguela railroad line where his father, Lote, was a stationmaster. His parents were members of the Ovimbundu tribe, which represents some 40 percent of Angola's population. Lote Savimbi was a Protestant preacher, so active in the organization of congregations and schools that Catholic churchmen repeatedly asked railroad officials to send him to new posts. As the family moved, young Jonas picked up his father's compelling oratorical skills and detailed knowledge about the railroad.
This information would later serve him when as a guerrilla leader he organized attacks on the line that was one of southern Africa's vital commercial links, transporting copper and other ores from Zaire, Zambia and Zimbabwe. By cutting the railroad, Unita paralyzed Angola's economy.
A bright student, Mr. Savimbi was accepted by an elite Portuguese high school where graduated at the top of his class. In 1958 he went to Lisbon to study medicine. There he became active in the struggle for Angolan independence, and when the Portuguese secret police pressured him to inform on his associates, he fled for Lausanne, where he changed his field of study to politics. He received his doctorate in 1965.
As early as 1961, Mr. Roberto had named Mr. Savimbi as foreign minister of his self-proclaimed Angolan government in exile. Angered by what he regarded as Mr. Roberto's favoritism of the Bakongo, he resigned and flirted with the Marxist M.P.L.A. But when Dr. Neto's movement denied him a seat on its governing council, he went to look for sponsorship first in Moscow and then in China. The Russians turned him down, but the Chinese were interested. Late in 1965 they invited him and 12 of his colleagues to study guerrilla warfare.
Infiltrating back into the Portuguese colony in 1966, he founded Unita in a remote village in Moxico province and began military operations.. During the fighting for independence, tensions between the three groups and their chiefs prevented a common strategy and the Portuguese were able to maintain control of Angola for nine years after Mr. Savimbi took up arms. Then, on April 25, 1974, leftist-leaning officers in Lisbon overthrew the dictatorship of Marcelo Caetano and pledged to end the colonial wars.
As the Portuguese military withdrew along with 300,000 Portuguese settlers, Angola became independent on Nov. 11, 1975. With an eye to possible benefactors, Mr. Savimbi pragmatically recast himself as an anti-Communist.
Fighting continued throughout the 1980's. Unita raided the railroad and government posts and established itself in the diamond region. In 1986, Mr. Savimbi traveled to Washington in search of military aid, meeting with President Reagan, whose administration provided him with a $15 million package of covert assistance. In June 1989, President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire convened a peace meeting at which Mr. Savimbi and President dos Santos agree to a cease-fire. Two months later it collapsed in heavy fighting.
On May 31, 1991, in Lisbon, the two men signed a peace accord calling for national elections. Mr. dos Santos won the first round of balloting in 1992, but Mr. Savimbi claimed widespread fraud. Before a second round of voting took place, Mr. Savimbi pulled out of the agreement and the fighting resumed.
Seemingly facing military defeat in 1994, Mr. Savimbi agreed to peace terms, but said he could not leave his hideout for the signing ceremony in Zambia because the Angolan government would kill him. Since then, the country has continued to be riven by conflict, though generally it has been less intense.
of Angolan Rebel Confirmed
Savimbi's Slaying May Do Little to Heal Divided Nation
By Jon Jeter
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, February 24, 2002; Page A20
JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 23 -- In a sidewalk cafe in the Angolan capital, Luanda, businessman Victor Baio sat with an espresso and a cell phone today, watching as passing cars honked and shirtless young men cheered confirmation that rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was dead.
"They are too young to remember," said Baio, 47, in a telephone interview, "that the government has announced Savimbi's death before, only to have him resurface and say: 'No, it is not true. I am alive and I will continue to fight.' "
Even dead, Savimbi will be a force in Angolan life, Baio predicted. "Savimbi is like an apparition in Angola. He is rarely seen but always felt. What he has stood for for more than 40 years is the principal divide in Angolan society since the colonialists packed up and left, and I don't think that will die just because he is dead.
"And I wonder, can you kill a ghost?"
Baio's skepticism reflects Savimbi's larger-than-life role in Africa's longest civil war and the historical reservoir of resentment that fueled it. The Portuguese rulers who went home in 1975 left Angolan society divided between mixed-race mestizos who dominate cities and political life and impoverished villagers who feel forgotten. Savimbi convinced millions of villagers that he was their best hope.
Television footage of Savimbi's bullet-ridden corpse and an account from a Portuguese journalist who viewed the body confirmed the government's announcement Friday that the 67-year-old guerrilla leader had been killed in a gun battle with government troops. His rebel group, known by the Portuguese acronym UNITA, also confirmed the death.
But the question of whether a durable peace is at hand is as unresolved as ever.
"The war will change without Savimbi, I don't think there's any doubt about that," said a Western diplomat in Angola. "He has been the government's expressed raison d'etre for nearly 27 years and now they don't have him as a foil anymore.
"But the real issues that divided Angola at independence [from Portugal] 27 years ago are just as real today," the diplomat said. "Whoever emerges to replace Savimbi and [Angolan President Jose Eduardo] dos Santos still have to find some common ground."
Called a freedom fighter by President Ronald Reagan and a psychotic by diplomats and defectors, Savimbi at various points in his career had broad populist appeal. "For all his flaws, Savimbi represented those who felt excluded by the current regime," said Jardo Muekalia, UNITA's former representative to the United States.
Outsiders wanted to see the conflict as driven by the Cold War, profits from mineral resources or tribalism, he said. These all played roles, but "the real issue has always been the class structure that survived colonial rule."
With battle tactics that laid waste to city after city and never distinguished strongly between civilians and combatants, UNITA and Savimbi exhausted much of their popular support over the years. But many poor rural Angolans continued to stand by them as the lesser evil.
The son of a stationmaster in Angola's central highlands, Savimbi trained as a physician in Europe and a guerrilla fighter in Maoist China. He had the grit and grace to impress White House benefactors and Angolan villagers alike.
He founded UNITA 36 years ago during Angola's war for independence from Portugal, drawing core support from the country's largest ethnic group, the Ovimbundu tribe. They are largely uneducated Bantu people living in the country's southern provinces and felt ignored by the country's other liberation movements, known by the Portuguese initials MPLA and FNLA.
"Like it or not, it was Savimbi who captured the hopes and aspirations of the people of the south," said Margaret Hemenway, a U.S. congressional staff member who has worked as an elections observer in Angola.
After the Portuguese left, war quickly erupted between the Marxist MPLA, backed by Cuba and the Soviet Union, and UNITA, supported by the United States and South Africa's white-minority regime. The MPLA established itself in the capital as the government, with UNITA fighting it in rural areas.
In 1991 Savimbi signed a peace accord with the MPLA. He ran for office the following year, but when the first round of balloting showed him losing to dos Santos, Savimbi complained of vote-rigging. That set in motion a crisis in which the MPLA rounded up and killed thousands of UNITA loyalists in Luanda.
According to popular belief, Savimbi escaped Luanda hidden in a coffin. The war resumed.
Angola ranks among the world's poorest and most war-damaged countries, ruled by an MPLA that abandoned Marxism following the collapse of the Berlin Wall. The party has devoted many of the country's resources to fighting UNITA, and according to diplomats and relief organizations has stolen billions of dollars through secret arms deals and cloaked accounting.
International aid agencies say that the government cannot account for nearly $1.3 billion in oil revenues, money that is desperately needed for public services in a country where one of every three children dies before age 5.
"I think the MPLA is going to have to address the perception held by the average Angolan that they are indifferent to their suffering," said Hannelie de Beer, a security analyst who has studied the conflict in Angola for more than a decade.
"If the MPLA uses Savimbi's death to hunt down UNITA's top brass like they did in '92, rather than signaling their preference to negotiate with whomever emerges to lead UNITA, we will see the war drag on for quite some time still," de Beer said.
In Luanda, revelers hoping that Savimbi's death would lead to peace took to the streets Friday night, although many people remained unconvinced of his death until the government released a videotape of his body. He had been shot 15 times, according to a Portuguese television reporter.
February 24, 2002
Savimbi pays the final price for 30-year battle to rule Angola
THE lieutenants of Jonas Savimbi, who led Angola’s Unita rebels for more than 30 years until he was shot dead by government forces last Friday, were impressive people. While you waited to meet the “president”, as they called him, they would discuss international politics; bright, well educated, charming men. But when he stormed into the room they would bow like slaves.
I first met Savimbi in 1984 in Jamba, his bush headquarters near the Namibian border. I was summoned at 2am and he railed at me for an hour.
He was surrounded by his ministers and generals, all dressed in battle fatigues, but only he was allowed to talk.
And talk he did, fluently in four European languages and two African. He was a stocky, tough-talking man who knew when to charm as well as bully.
Savimbi was a great dictator who never came to power. He failed because of cold war politics. Born in 1934, he was an Ovimbund from the Angolan highlands whose land had been taken over by the Portuguese settlers.
He dabbled with each of the anti-colonial movements before founding his own and getting the Chinese to back him. But the Russians supported the urban-based MPLA and the Americans and South Africans backed a third movement, the FNLA. When the Portuguese empire collapsed in 1974, the Russians and Cubans won a short, sharp war.
Savimbi did not give up. He gathered his supporters and began a long rural guerrilla struggle against the government. America and South Africa were looking to bleed the Russians and Cubans in Angola. Savimbi was a useful pawn. He made anti-communism his own language and presented Unita as a brave pro-western democratic movement struggling for freedom against an evil empire.
While the South Africans trained Unita troops and poured in weapons, Savimbi was feted at the White House by President George Bush Sr. The Americans and Israelis started to supply weapons, too, while Zambia and Congo gave him regional support.
The West wanted to believe in Savimbi as an anti-communist crusader, but he had another agenda. Unita’s slogan was socialism, democracy and negritude — hardly the prevailing western ideology.
At one time he had genuine support. But then stories began to leak about what really went on at Jamba. In 1987 some of his most senior lieutenants were murdered, including Tito Chingunji, his ambassador, who had done so much to win support for Unita in the West. There were stories of torture and witch burnings. Savimbi had begun to rule by terror, murdering the families of any lieutenant who challenged him or defected.
Those lieutenants were indeed terrified. One dissident who managed to flee gave me a detailed list of atrocities and said Savimbi would come after him. “He turns into an owl and can fly anywhere in the world,” he told me.
When the South Africans decided in 1988 to make peace with Angola, they no longer needed Savimbi. Nor did the Americans who began to push their ally towards an election, telling Savimbi he would win it easily. He lost narrowly and went back to the bush to continue his war for total power.
The Americans changed sides and, needing Angola’s oil, made a deal with the government which in return dropped its thin veneer of communism. Peace agreements supported by the United Nations would have given Savimbi the deputy presidency but he was never interested in being anyone’s number two. Both sides rearmed frantically and the country slid back into civil war in 1999.
Savimbi, 67, was hunted down in the barren badlands of eastern Angola. He died as he had lived for the past 40 years, a bush fighter, determined to be king at any price.
Angola rebel leader’s body shown to media
Death of UNITA’s Jonas Savimbi
may pave way for end of civil war
LUANDA, Angola, Feb. 23 — The government of Angola displayed the body of rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, slain in a battle with soldiers, on television Saturday, urging his followers to surrender and end the country’s civil war
BODY, whose face was visible, was recognizable as that of Savimbi, leader of the
UNITA rebel movement, in the footage aired on state-owned Televisao Popular de
Angola. It was filmed in a remote village near where the army said its soldiers
killed him Friday.
HOPES FOR WAR’S END
The body, in combat fatigues apparently stained by blood, was on a makeshift table on grass beneath a tree with soldiers looking on. What appeared to be a gunshot wound was visible on Savimbi’s neck.
Otherwise his face was undamaged, contrary to earlier reports that the body was ridden with 15 bullet wounds and unrecognizible.
The death of the rebel leader, blamed by the United Nations for wrecking peace efforts, has raised hopes for an end the civil war that has devastated this southwest African nation.
Savimbi, who was 67 and led UNITA for 30 years, was a Cold War ally of the United States in a guerrilla war against a then-Marxist government, but became internationally isolated after he resisted peace efforts. He has not been seen for several years. His animosity toward President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled since 1977, has repeatedly frustrated international efforts to end the fighting.
Officials from UNITA — a Portuguese acronym for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola — are in hiding and were not available for comment on Savimbi’s death or on the government’s call for surrender.
civil war is believed to have killed about 500,000 people, though there are no
confirmed figures. About 4 million people — roughly one-third of the population
— have been driven from their homes by the fighting, creating a humanitarian
crisis. Human rights groups claim both sides have committed atrocities.
Foreign Minister Joao Miranda informed the U.N. representative in Angola and the ambassadors of the United States, Russia and Portugal of Savimbi’s death.
The army and government said Savimbi was killed in a gun battle on Friday afternoon. His body was taken to Lucusse, about 480 miles east of Luanda. Officials said the body would be buried in the village.
U.N. representative Mussagi Jeichande said he regretted Savimbi’s killing but added: “We have to see this, probably, as the beginning of the end of Angola’s war.”
Miranda said government troops would continue to hunt down rebel units and force them to hand over their weapons. In a statement, the government urged rebels to surrender. The strength of UNITA’s forces is not known but are though to number several thousand. Angola, roughly twice the size of Texas, has ideal terrain for guerrilla warfare.
Hermann Hannekon of the Africa Institute of South Africa, a research group, said the main concern is that UNITA may break up into lawless armed gangs that could menace civilians in remote areas.
Dos Santos is due to travel to Washington for talks with President Bush on Monday in a visit announced several weeks ago. On his way, Dos Santos will stop in Portugal — the former colonial power here — for talks with officials late Sunday.
Dozens of people were hurt by stray bullets in Luanda overnight as government soldiers celebrated Savimbi’s death by firing into the air, police said. In several neighborhoods, residents honked car horns in celebration.
The government said it would now prepare for an end to Angola’s civil war and said it was ready to implement fully a failed 1994 peace accord that called for regular democratic elections.
Savimbi rejected three peace deals designed to end the fighting because they did not give him control of the country.
His death could lead to power struggles within the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, which has been kept united largely by having a common enemy in Savimbi.
It was not clear whether anyone from UNITA’s ranks could replace Savimbi, who has ruled the group ruthlessly since he founded it in 1966 to battle Portugal’s colonial administration.
thought to have a stockpile of diamonds, sold on the international black market,
which has allowed it to keep fighting despite U.N. oil and arms sanctions.
The government army routed UNITA from its main strongholds over the past year, after a 4-year-old peace accord, brokered by the United Nations, collapsed in 1998.
LONG POST-COLONIAL WAR
Angola’s civil war first erupted after the country’s 1975 independence from Portugal.
The MPLA, emboldened by Cuban military might, launched an offensive that drove Savimbi and his UNITA guerrillas deep into the bush, in what became known as the movement’s fabled “Long March.”
UNITA began to receive the support of South African troops and CIA covert aid. Touted as a key ally against communism, Savimbi was received as a head of state by President Reagan at the White House in 1986. UNITA grew to more than 60,000 men, but always lacked the MPLA’s air power.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Angolan government dropped its Marxist policies and moved closer to the United States, prompting U.S. oil companies to invest billions of dollars in the country.
Savimbi became isolated after rejecting his defeat in Angola’s first-ever elections in 1992. He returned to war as Western powers pushed for democracy in Africa.
From Volume 24 Number 6 | cover date 21 March 2002
The sight of a man in fatigues stalking around a poor country is guaranteed to arouse the interest of ideologues in richer ones, whatever their persuasion. Yet the recent 'martyrdom' of Jonas Savimbi, the leader of the Unita rebel movement in Angola, has had nothing like the same effect as the death of Che Guevara 35 years ago in Bolivia, mourned by millions of vicarious guerrilleros around the world. The bodies of both men were put on display to satisfy the scepticism of the international press and demoralise the local following. Both were transmitted to most parts of the world: Che in Deposition with the Third Day pending, as it still is for some; Savimbi rotting in his socks, caught like a chicken-thief who thought to creep into the coop.
Jonas Savimbi stole just about everything and he should not be pitied. His greatest wish was to take possession of Angola, not as a common felon but as a feudal grandee, a Naipaulian Big Man, who would stride out of the bush, fully empowered by elections or force majeure - it didn't much matter - and preside over the capital Luanda, the decadent enemy heartland of half-castes, Marxists, philanderers and oil-profiteers. This was not possible. In the attempt, which lasted roughly thirty years, he robbed Angolan peasants of just about everything and several well-known politicians of their plausibility. Jeane Kirkpatrick, the Reagan Administration's henchperson at the UN, described him as 'one of the authentic heroes of our time', and Reagan himself is reported to have likened him to Abraham Lincoln. Even as he ceased to serve the purposes of Washington and Pretoria at the end of the Cold War, he continued to persuade Western right-wing lobbyists and anti-Communist crusaders to part with their money: 'hearts, minds and purses' was the Savimbi strategy on this front and it paid off handsomely. He also pilfered and cannibalised greater reputations to advance or tweak his own: he proclaimed himself a Maoist before Maoism became an anathema and a devotee of Che when fashion features in the Face were still decking out pretty boys from Epping or Harrogate to look like jungle revolutionaries. Ingenuity, coupled with immense reserves of courage, cruelty and amour propre, was the ingredient that allowed him to continue his 'armed struggle' in Angola for so long, and to turn the country into one of the unhappiest on earth. At the same time, he was a consequence of Angola's place in the Cold War jigsaw, and the speed at which the Angolan anti-colonial struggle became an internationalised civil war fought by large numbers of non-nationals.
The Portuguese were very unhappy about leaving Angola. Like the Pieds Noirs, they were a settler community, much of it of peasant stock, which had done well. Angola was resource-rich. There were, and still are, diamonds and oil. In the central highlands, you could raise cattle and crops; where the land sloped down towards sea level, coffee grew in abundance. This was not a place to leave with good grace. It's said that in the bay of Luanda, as Independence approached in 1975, the ships bound for Europe were loaded with as much as they could hold and what they couldn't, including brand new cars, generators, office switchboards, anything that could have been useful in the new Angola, was tipped into the sea. Savimbi was by this time fighting flat out against the MPLA, the movement that was about to assume power in Luanda. His comrades in the field were the South African Defence Force.
This was an extraordinary alliance for an avowed anti-colonialist, but the situation in Angola was tangled and Savimbi's methods were unorthodox. For a start, neither of the two rival liberation movements in Angola, the MPLA and the FNLA, which were active from the early 1960s, could get the edge over the other until the very eve of Independence, by which time the MPLA had a decisive advantage in the form of Cuban military support on the ground. Savimbi was another matter. He had parted company with the FNLA in 1964 and put his own arrangements together. By 1966, Unita was a functioning organisation. On the face of it, the movement should never have amounted to much, but as the marginal player in what had become a triangular struggle for power it enjoyed two slow-burn benefits which assured its survival. The first was tribalism. Savimbi belonged to the Ovimbundu people of the highlands, geographically remote from the stamping grounds of the two main movements. These, too, had tribal bases (the MPLA were mostly Mbundu and the FNLA Bakongo) but their tribalism was diluted by a modicum of urbanity and, too, by Marxism-Leninism, with its fraternal this and that. Once the Cubans had done for the FNLA and helped to install the MPLA in Luanda, Unita slowly but surely took on the characteristics (and frightening strengths) of an ethnic movement, like Inkatha in South Africa or Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party in Bosnia. (Both Savimbi and Karadzic preferred to be addressed as 'Doctor'. Perhaps it will be 'Dr Karadzic' if and when he stands trial at the Hague. Savimbi got his doctorate in Switzerland and used to sign his letters 'Jonas Malheiro Savimbi, licensed in legal and political sciences, University of Lausanne'.)
Even though Unita had begun by carrying out armed actions against the Portuguese, the authorities were far too preoccupied with the other two movements to give it a great deal of thought. This was its second advantage. Gradually a sort of entente seemed to grow between Savimbi and the colonial enemy. It became more businesslike with the arrival of Francisco da Costa Gomes, who took command of the military effort in Angola in 1970. (He later served as Portugal's first post-Fascist President.) The result was a shaky non-aggression pact, observed on some days but not others, and it involved Savimbi in gathering information about the MPLA for the Portuguese, while undermining it as best he could. None of his right-hand men, some of whom would become Unita's most able commanders and diplomats in the 1980s, seems to have known what was going on.
Unita's prospects were somewhat improved by the coup in Lisbon, in April 1974. With Iberian Fascism entering its final stage, decolonisation became inevitable in Portugal's possessions and, with Franco's death, in Spain's. The results in both cases - they included the occupation of the Spanish Sahara by Morocco and of East Timor by Indonesia - were disastrous. The superpowers' interest in Angola had by early 1975 become nearly obsessional. Unita was suddenly a useful point of counter-pressure against the MPLA, which was heavily backed by Moscow and supported by the Cubans. According to the head of the CIA's Angola Task Force at the time, Washington divided about $30 million (mid-1970s values) between the FNLA and Unita in the five months prior to Independence - the start date of this high-alert funding period coincided with the fall of Saigon. America's generosity was a boon to Unita. It couldn't give the movement a seat at the table, but it was respectable seed capital for the long business of murder, starvation, intimidation and mayhem that became Unita's purpose in Angola from then on.
Savimbi's good fortune was to have become an anti-Communist in Southern Africa when the tide was turning against the values of the 'free world', which in those days meant white minority rule. The MPLA was strictly a Marxist-Leninist movement with a non-starter economic policy and, as time went on, a penchant for self-enrichment. Like Islam and Christianity in many parts of Africa, Marxism-Leninism was a malleable doctrine, susceptible to many local heresies, but the MPLA was rigorous in its discourse, and the persecution of its enemies, if nothing else. As the party of power, it was also forced to become a war machine, for the killing only intensified after Independence. In this, Savimbi was crucial. He could rail and cajole and smarm and pontificate to enthusiastic foreign audiences about the evils of Communism in Angola and then pass the hat. He had a regional domino theory which cited the three main Muscovite movements - the ANC, Swapo of Namibia and Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union - as well as Mugabe's Zanu and, in Mozambique, Frelimo going hell for leather with another Marxism-Leninism cargo-cult.
Insofar as there was any urgency in Savimbi's lucrative anti-Communist gospel, it lay four-square in Angola, the main target of Pretoria's external business after 1975. South Africa - a 'free world' stalwart at the time - had a counter-domino theory of its own, later known as the 'total strategy', which would have been hard to implement without some warlord leverage in Angola, and that is what Savimbi provided. Mozambique and other Frontline states also harboured ANC fighters, but Angola was a far tougher target, and a more important one. Under the MPLA it became a base area for armed South African and Namibian anti-apartheid forces, supported on the spot by detachments from Havana and advisers from Moscow, complete with armour and, eventually, very effective air power. Angola's was a gloomy internationalism, for sure. The country was full of dour apparatchiks, broken idealists, condescending Russians and Soviet-satellite expatriates, Stasi trainees and homesick, exasperated Cubans, but it was nearly unassailable, for it had oil revenues and a more than halfway decent Army, whose best brigades were adequately equipped and reasonably led. (A handful of officers were Portuguese, well versed in counter-insurgency, but politically inclined to stay the course as Angolans alongside a movement with which they were in sympathy.) By 1980, then, the contest stood as follows: the MPLA, Swapo and the ANC on one side, backed by the Eastern Bloc and Havana; Unita and apartheid special forces on the other.
Matters were hard for Savimbi after Carter cut him off in 1976. His reliance on Pretoria was so thorough that he was regarded as little more than an apartheid stooge. But the South Africans set him up with Jamba, his well-appointed base in the remote south-east of the country, and serviced his needs in accordance with their own. They became, in effect, a standing presence in that part of Angola - referred to by Pretoria as 'the force in being' - and a tremendous source of anxiety for the MPLA, whose military sweeps against Savimbi were deepening Ovimbundu resentment and slowly creating the density of ethnic support that would carry him for a few years to come.
Savimbi, meanwhile, could argue that the MPLA was the brutal agent of Communist domination he had always said it was, not only over his own people, who were being bombed and displaced by the campaigning, and often horribly abused, but over the region as a whole. His tirades against the corruption of the MPLA were becoming truer as time went on; that it was repressive and arrogant was also correct. But his dislike of its mixed-race, paleface composition became more pronounced - and his black nationalist ideology became blacker by degrees. This, as critics were apt to point out, did not square with the sale of the Ovimbundu soul to the devil in Pretoria, but Savimbi had no problem with a powerful, obliging white man, while white people of the kind he cultivated liked nothing more than a 'real black man' (this was the secret of Buthelezi's fortunes, before they declined).
The tap that Kissinger had turned on, and Carter had turned off, was opened again in 1981, when Ronald Reagan approved a covert aid package for Unita. South African Special Forces were good at what they did. Unita's performance was already much improved by comparison with its half-hearted exertions against the Portuguese. Even so, Washington's financial and diplomatic backing was an immense boost. The country, which was now a Cold War cockpit, remained undefeatable, but it could be comprehensively ruined, and this is what happened. The figures for war-related deaths, and child deaths in particular, leapt dramatically in the 1980s. Towns and villages were deserted or shelled to extinction. The countryside was a living death. There were landmines and limbless people everywhere (there still are). Young men were press-ganged into the burgeoning rabble of the Angolan Army, where the discipline of the elite units could not hope to reach. Unita kidnapped and abducted its fighters or picked up the homeless, traumatised survivors of Government offensives. Some of them were so-called 'child soldiers' - 'premature adults' is a better description. Provincial capitals became slum havens for hundreds of thousands of displaced people. Savimbi's struggle, subsumed though it was in a large-scale offensive driven by South Africa and paid for in the United States, had come home to Angola. But of course the Government had enough in the way of oil revenues to sustain a major war effort, while the Angolan commanders, some of them, were just as good as Unita's, often better, and they had the benefit of a Cuban contingent whose numbers were steadily growing, partly in response to Washington's aggressive posture. With battle-hardening came a grim hardening of party political practice - a kind of Stalinism, as Basil Davidson later came to think of it - mirrored in the bases of the Namibians and South Africans. Swapo 'traitors' were tortured by their commissars, while ANC dissenters were shoved in pits or executed.
The balanced view is that Moscow and Havana must take their share of responsibility for what happened to Angola in the 1980s. No doubt. But the country had become the site of a bitter clash between anti-colonialism and anti-apartheid, on the one hand - with support from the regimes whose 'socialist' ideology informed them - and, on the other, a pair of monsters, the United States and apartheid South Africa, who were prepared to defend their version of the free world to the death - almost always someone else's, which is where Savimbi came in. (Once at least, South African armour, retreating in haste, mowed down Unita infantry.) In Angola, that defence would have meant, very simply, running the country from Pretoria with the help of a subaltern in Luanda. The man in question would have done the job rather well. Without the Cuban presence, quite likely this is what would have happened. It's possible that Angolans might have suffered less, or differently, under such a dispensation, just as black South Africans might have suffered less, or differently, had they settled for apartheid. For most people in Angola at the time, these choices couldn't even be formulated, let alone expressed in any real way.
There appears, all the same, to have been a margin of distinction in people's minds between MPLA supremacism, with its bullying ways and its contempt for the idiot majority - the 'idiocy of rural life', that is; especially Ovimbundu rural life - and a powerful, military-industrial racial supremacism, with its contempt for everything except its own survival. Angola was apartheid's bloodiest battlefield, but the distinction - in more or less stark forms - was the same elsewhere in the region. The polls in Southern Africa, from Rhodesia in 1980 to South Africa in 1994, tell us what millions of people thought of as the lesser evil.
In 1988, with the battle for Angola turning in the Government's favour, Savimbi's private foreign supporters did all they could to further his cause. The UK branch of the Western Goals Foundation, an influential rightist 'mover-and-shaker' organisation, brought him to Britain to speak. In the US in the same year, the right- of-right Conservative Caucus - created in the Ford years under the auspices of Jesse Helms and Richard Viguerie - put up $221,054 for its 'victory over Communism in Southern Africa'. Savimbi was on the organisation's list of priority concerns. In military terms, the Cubans were doing well in Angola, at a price, and the South Africans rather worse than they had in the past. The Cold War, crucially, was drawing to a close, and a regional settlement opened up. By the end of the year, the deal was all but done. There was a timetable for Cuban withdrawal. A large detachment of South African troops stuck in the south of the country was allowed to retreat without being mangled. South Africa, it was agreed, would also leave Namibia and the UN would supervise a Namibian election. Similar moves were afoot in Mozambique. Mandela, clearly, was going to be freed. There would be elections - majority rule - in South Africa, too. Elections everywhere, in fact - even in Angola.
Washington's great anti-Communists - the Somozas, Bothas, Marcoses, Pinochets, Mobutus and the like - were never great democrats. Neither was Savimbi. It was clear before the elections in Angola that the democratic spirit was not something his foreign admirers expected to find in him. The adulation nonetheless continued as the election drew closer. Savimbi's praises were sung at length by the British branch of the International Freedom Federation - patronised by Jimmy Goldsmith and John Aspinall, and run by a yoofish wild bunch who had come up through the Federation of Conservative Students in the second Thatcher term. When Savimbi rejected the results of the elections in 1992 (which proved the country's preference for the lesser evil of an oil-rich clique in Luanda, as opposed to an old apartheid stooge with murder on his mind), his foreign friends cleared their throats and turned to more pressing business: untrammelled market freedom in Eastern Europe and, nearer home, the horrors of Maastricht. Savimbi took Angola back to war.
He was widely ostracised for doing so, but he could still knock on a few doors. There were unmarked supply flights from South Africa - old friends in Special Forces - and in Zaire in 1995 you could see an illegal airlift operating almost daily. Another peace package had been signed in Lusaka the year before: Unita was using the lull to re-equip. Savimbi's great coup in these costly years was the control of the diamond trade, which enabled him to rebuild his army into a significant force, as it had been when Unita worked in tandem with the South Africans. There was nonetheless a conscientious international effort to choke off his arms supplies and freeze the movement's assets. In 2000, the UN's sanctions began to be more carefully monitored and enforced than they had been in the 1990s. It was also becoming hard for Savimbi to trade his diamond reserves.
Since the elections, he had lost friends, especially in Unita itself. A number of top men were now in government in Luanda. Some senior Unita figures remained behind only because they were too frightened by the prospect of what Savimbi would do to their families if they left. His former admirer Fred Bridgland, who published a lionising biography in the 1980s, had long since turned against him. Savimbi didn't like that. Ten years ago Bridgland told me the death threats were so serious that De Klerk's people had given him security minders. He had begun to catalogue the murders Savimbi committed inside Unita. Many of his victims were members of his own entourage, and more specifically of the top echelon of Unita's leadership. Accusations of Witchcraft were prevalent and so, too, were public burnings. In one case, Savimbi 'discovered' a woman spying on him by flying over his house at night. There were also tough penalties, according to Bridgland, for those who tried to deny his sexual advances. Ten years after the defeat of Communism, Savimbi was the dark residue of post-war anti-Communism at its most ruinous and superstitious.
Between 1975 and the ceasefire that led to the elections of 1992, about 300,000 people are thought to have died in Angola as a direct or indirect result of the war. The figure for Savimbi's second war (or second and third wars, if you count the Lusaka accords of 1994 as a hiatus) is probably between 100,000 and 300,000. I went to Angola before and after the elections. Three visits in all, yet I think I'm right in saying I never set eyes on a body, which is an eerie thing in view of the statistics. But the nearly dead, the dying and the horribly injured could be found wherever you went. Children in stinking, ill-equipped hospitals with festering bullet-wounds; inert infants dying from dysentery; the living, whimpering, unspeakable remains of a boy in Huambo who had just stepped on a landmine; a soldier at Cuito Cuanavale cut through the midriff by shrapnel when our trucks were shelled by the South Africans. Somewhere in all this, there is the no less vivid memory of a large, convivial man in a dark collarless suit, with gold on his hands and wrists, addressing a meeting in London a year or so before Angola's only elections. It was Jonas Savimbi proposing to put Angola out to tender after his victory at the polls. Markets and joint ventures: Angola as the land of opportunity it always was, for outsiders above all. It was odd to hear an erstwhile admirer of Che Guevara with so little to say, beyond a vague promise of 'rural development', about the country's majority of subsistence farmers. They were the people hardest hit by the war, although, as it turned out, he still hadn't finished with them. Since 1998, four million people have been displaced by the violence of both sides in Angola; that's nearly a third of the population. At the time of writing, the numbers are reported to be rising as the war continues - beyond Savimbi's control, at last, but still very much of his making, and that of the men who made him.
Jeremy Harding is a contributing editor at the LRB. Small Wars, Small Mercies: Journeys in Africa's Disputed Nations came out in 1993. The Uninvited: Refugees at the Rich Man's Gate was published in 2000.
Adeus às armas
Uma Esperança, mas
Por JOSÉ MANUEL FERNANDES
PUBLICO Domingo, 24 de Fevereiro de 2002
Jonas Savimbi morreu, mesmo. O "ciclone, admirável e pavoroso", como ontem o definia, nestas páginas, José Eduardo Agualusa, desapareceu. O seu corpo, inerte e crivado de balas, foi exibido ao Mundo. Morto em combate, reforça a sua lenda. Homem único, chefe sem herdeiros, deixa atrás de si um rasto de sangue, mas ao morrer não leva consigo todos os males da pátria angolana.
Enquanto Savimbi viveu, e combateu, e não se rendeu, a guerra não acabou nem podia acabar - sem Savimbi, Angola pode ganhar a paz. Pode. Mas para que isso aconteça, e que isso valha a pena, é preciso que Angola mude, e muito. Porque Savimbi não era o único, nem sequer o maior, dos culpados pela desgraça de Angola.
Sem Savimbi, cuja ameaça sempre presente permitia aos homens de Eduardo dos Santos manter o país sob férreo controle, limitar as liberdades públicas, violar os direitos humanos e, impudicamente, apropriar-se das riquezas imensas do país, pode desaparecer o cimento que ainda mantinha a coesão do regime. Pode. Mas para que isso aconteça é importante que os homens e as mulheres livres de Angola sacudam o jugo que pesa sobre eles. Esse jugo chama-se MPLA - e o que resta da UNITA.
Sem Savimbi abre-se uma oportunidade para o regresso à normalidade e ao caminho democrático iniciado em 1991. Para que volte a haver esperança. Uma ténue esperança.
Na verdade Angola nunca fugiu, nem se acredita que possa fugir por milagre, ao destino trágico das nações africanas que a natureza bafejou com imensas riquezas naturais. Nesses países, quase sem excepção - ou praticamente só com a excepção da África do Sul -, quem detém essas riquezas, quem controla a renda do petróleo e dos diamantes, consegue o prodígio de enriquecer enquanto o povo empobrece, de corromper e comprar fidelidades e, ainda, de não depender do exterior. Pior: em países como Angola, ou como a Nigéria, são as potências ocidentais que dependem das oligarquias locais e das licenças para explorar as jazigas inesgotáveis. Pior: essas oligarquias nem sequer necessitam de recorrer à comunidade internacional, de pedir a sua ajuda financeira: o petróleo e os diamantes são hipoteca suficiente para todo o crédito do mundo.
Um livro recente, de Tom Hodjes, que trabalhou muitos anos em Angola ao serviço das Nações Unidas - "Angola, from Afro-stalinism to Petro-diamond Capitalism" - descreve em pormenor a forma como os homens do Futungo de Belas (onde se situa a Presidência angolana), tornaram o Estado numa máquina "predatória", em lugar de dele fazerem um factor de desenvolvimento. "A resolusão ou diminuição da ameaça vinda da UNITA não constitui, apenas por si, garantia de melhor governação", concluia o autor. "A rede de interesses associada ao acesso à renda dos proveitos petrolíferos continuará a constituir um poderoso obstáculo a qualquer reforma. No entanto, abriria uma nova oportunidade de progresso".
Uma nova oportunidade, sem dúvida. A tal pequena esperança. E uma urgente necessidade: a de que Angola se veja também livre do "gémeo siamês" de Savimbi, o presidente José Eduardo dos Santos. Alguém que, por via do petróleo, é há largos anos o homem dos americanos, e dos franceses, e da diplomacia portuguesa, em Luanda. Alguém que amanhã estará em Lisboa, trazendo como troféu as imagens de uma cabeça crivada de balas. Entre nós dormirá, no Ritz de Lisboa, o sono dos justos.